OSHA’s New Hospitalization, Amputation, and Fatality Reporting Rule: Time to Add OSHA to Your Speed Dial

By Eric J. Conn and Amanda R. Strainis-Walker

On New Year’s Day 2015, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) new serious injury and fatality reporting rule became effective, significantly revising the triggering events for reporting workplace accidents to OSHA under the Agency’s Injury and Illness Recordkeeping regulations at 29 C.F.R. 1910.104, et seq.

New Injury and Illness Reporting Rule

The new regulations differ from the long-standing incident reporting rule in four ways:

  1. Lower the threshold for proactively reporting a catastrophic incident from the hospitalization of three or more employees to the hospitalization of a single employee;Reporting 3.JPG
  1. Add amputations (including partial amputations) and loss of an eye to the types of injuries that employers must proactively report;
  1. Introduce an internet portal for employers to submit reportable events; and
  1. Require publication of the reporting events on OSHA’s public website.

Requirements of the New Reporting Rule. The reporting rule has been long-referred to informally as the “Fat-Cat” rule because it requires employers to report to OSHA all incidents that result in an employee fatality (Fat) or a catastrophe (Cat). The new regulation redefines catastrophe. Historically, a catastrophe had been defined as an incident that resulted in the overnight hospitalization for treatment of three or more employees.  The Agency views the new report triggering events as indicative of serious hazards at a workplace. Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA David Michaels explained that:

“hospitalizations and amputations [are] sentinel events, indicating that serious hazards are likely to be present at a workplace and that an intervention is warranted to protect the other workers at the establishment.”

In addition to lowering the threshold from three to one employee hospitalizations, OSHA also changed the definition of “hospitalization.” Historically, an employee’s overnight hospital stay triggered the reporting requirement. Under the new rule, whether the hospitalization is a reportable event turns not on whether the employee stays overnight, but rather, whether the employee is formally admitted to the “in-patient” service of the hospital or clinic. The visit, however, must involve medical care after the in-patient admission. A hospital visit only for observation or diagnostic testing, even if it involves in-patient admission, does not constitute a reportable event.

The concepts of “formal admission” and “in-patient service” seem to be causing significant confusion in the new rule’s early stages. While OSHA continues to Continue reading